All religious alliance
Daily Mirror Editorial
Jan 6, 2011

Since the end of the war in 2009, government leaders have been proclaiming if not bragging about the rebuilding of a new Sri Lanka which will be the miracle or economic hub of Asia. But what we have seen so far to a large extent has been a series of showpiece extravagant projects, in which there is a lot of waste and even more corruption.

If a model Sri Lanka is to be rebuilt as an example to Asia and the world, it must be done on the solid foundation and the twin pillars of social justice on one side and multi-racial, multi-religious unity in diversity on the other. If this is not done we will be building sand castles and we know what happens to such fragile structures when economic or political storms hit them.

While the government delegation is to continue talks with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on finding a political solution to the ethnic conflict and a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) examines issues related to it, these new moves for racial unity could be consolidated by an all-religious dialogue and a solidarity alliance. Through such an alliance leaders of all religions could speak with one voice on issues relating to social justice, a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources, democracy, good governance, accountability, transparency and tough measures to curb rampant corruption.

The Maha Nayaka Theras as the chief prelates of the majority religion need to take the initiative in forming such an all-religious dialogue and solidarity alliance, which could meet regularly for a dialogue and to take a common stand on issues relating to the common good of all people. For instance the all-religious solidarity alliance could take a strong stand on the need for Sri Lankan political and other leaders to go back to our time-honoured traditions of Alpechchathavaya or a simple and humble lifestyle.

If the political leaders set the example in letting go of luxury living patterns or extravagance, then the people also would be inspired to learn to be content with their basic needs instead of desiring excessive wealth or luxuries. Recently Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is known to be the world’s highest paid politician with an annual income of about US$1.7 million has agreed to a pay cut of 36 per cent of his income. Ironically China’s President Hu Jintao who leads the world’s biggest country of 1.3 billion people gets an annual income of only about 11,000 US dollars. Singapore is only a speck when compared to China and the huge difference between the annual incomes of the two leaders shows the difference in the lifestyles.

Some if not most of Sri Lanka’s political leaders are also known to make millions by legal and fair means or through subtle and foul ways crudely known as bribery or corruption. If they also could agree to a significant pay cut, it would be a good example for the Sri Lankan people to work hard with a sense of responsibility and cooperate in building a strong, just and fair society. These are areas where the religious leaders coming together on the middle path of accommodation and in a sincere effort to bring together the truths in their scriptures, could act as the conscience of the nation and change the largely corrupt political system. The Congress of Religions yesterday acted in such a manner saying it would work publicly for the implementation of the positive recomendations in the reoprt of the Lessons Learnt and reconciliation Commission. Top prelates of all religions need to join such a congress and meet on a regular basis to act on behalf of the people.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka